Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
David Detrich, Committee Chair
In my work I am examining Nature/Culture dualism manifested in contemporary material culture through domestic objects. I'm surprised by how many things around me (furniture, textiles, wall coverings, etc.) reference something natural but how there isn't anything one would consider "Nature". It is evident that traces of the natural are all around us but it is mediated through man-made things. It is as if Nature has been co-opted, commoditized, and grafted into what defines the domestic realm. I question if artificial and abstracted representations of Nature within the domestic space, manufactured or hand made, have relegated Nature to the level of "thingness". I use theory from Jane Bennett and Daniel Miller to illustrate the agency that objects and things hold as well as their ability to influence people. My work combines, conflates, and deconstructs objects and materials from the domestic realm to interrogate their underlying order. I tease apart what is instilled by an object's form, aesthetics, function, as well as spatial and socioeconomic location. As I uncover the internal order of a thing I very quickly disrupt that order as a form of critiquing the system it participates in. That system may be consumer culture, Nature/Culture dualism, subject/object relationships, or issues of the individual versus the social. By teasing apart this combination that exists within an object, my work offers viewers the opportunity to reconsider their position in relation to things as well as to reconsider the terms defining what is natural, cultural, and domestic.
Cooke, Mary Elizabeth, "Diminishing Connections: Nature, the Domestic, and Thingness" (2016). All Theses. 2345.